JAMES MC DOWELL was born at "Cherry Grove" in Rockbridge County, Virginia. He attended Yale and graduated from Princeton. He served in the Virginia House of Delegates from December, 1830 until March, 1835 and again from January to April, 1838. Chosen governor by the state legislature, McDowell secured the passage of legislation establishing a free school system in counties where two-thirds of voters favored such a system. After leaving office, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives to fill a vacancy and was reelected twice in his own right.

Sources:

Collier, James G. The Political Career of James McDowell, 1839-1851. Thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of North Carolina in partial fulfillment of PhD requirements in the Department of History, 1963.

Miller, Sally Campbell Preston. Memoir of James McDowell, LL.D. For historical series of Washington and Lee University. Baltimore: John Murphy & Co., 1895.

The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 5. New York: James T. White & Company.

Salmon, Emily and Edward D. C. Campbell, Jr. Hornbook of Virginia History. 4th ed. Richmond: Library of Virginia, 1994.

Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols

University of North Carolina Library. Selections from the Southern Historical Collection. Accession 35353. Manuscript Department, Library of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC.

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress